The use of synthetic cannabinoids is a controversial issue in the cannabis industry. It could be an opportunity to advance the research and development into rare cannabinoids and their medical uses, but synthetics are also misused to tragic effect in the illicit market.
Legal synthetics vs. Illegal synthetics
All synthetic cannabinoids are produced by genetically engineering living cells like algae, bacteria, yeast, or organic chemistry (synthetic chemical biology). In the legal market, we can use synthetic cannabinoids to treat specific health conditions, but they must meet FDA approval and work the same as naturally occurring cannabinoids.
Unfortunately, synthetic marijuana also exists in the illicit market under names like K2, Spice, or Fake Weed. These illegal products are usually manufactured out of the United States with no government oversight, and they can be deadly. The chemical composition and packaging constantly changes to skirt the law and do not represent an authentic THC composition. It only mimics the psychoactive effect you feel, with no redeeming health benefits.
The case for synthetic cannabinoids
We know that there are over 100 cannabinoids found in cannabis plants, but they do not exist in every strain and not at the same potency level. The most well-known and abundant are CBD, CBG, CBN, and THC. These are called major cannabinoids. Minor cannabinoids (the other 100) are rarer and less plentiful.
Synthetic manufacturing can easily generate large quantities of minor cannabinoids that the plant cannot provide without producing large amounts of plant biomass. (Although, seed breeders and growers are experimenting with cultivating custom strains that play with the levels of cannabinoids and terpenes.)
British Columbia’s Ministry of Agriculture recently released a fact sheet describing the symptoms and spread of the most common diseases affecting cannabis plants. The list includes Fusarium, Pythium, Powdery Mildew, Botrytis, and Hop Latent Viroid (HLVd). Many of the pathogens cause stunted growth as well as reduced yield and potency. Others, such as pythium can cause plant death.
Needless to say, cultivators should do everything they can to prevent infections and ensure a fruitful harvest. The fact sheet concludes with several recommendations for preventing disease in cannabis plants, including:Maintain a clean and sanitary environmentMaintain proper humidity and temperatureTreat irrigation waterIdentify and remove diseased plantsPlant disease-resistant cultivarsUse disease-free planting stock or cuttings
Maintain a clean and sanitary environment
All the plant pathogens described in the fact sheet can be spread through contaminated equipment, tools, and potentially staff and visitors. That is why maintaining clean and sanitary growing facilities can minimize the potential spread of pathogens.
Tools, equipment, dehumidifiers, air filters, and growing and trimming rooms, should be regularly cleaned and sanitized. Visitors and staff should also use footbaths before entering the growing area and wear hairnets, beard nets, gloves, and Tyvek coveralls.
With the laws about cannabis use and sale continuing to change, two South African students are busy finding new and more efficient ways to grow the controversial plant.
In South Africa, cannabis can still not be cultivated or sold commercially. There is a lot of hope for a future cannabis industry to become transformative.
There are many examples worldwide of countries that have legalised commercial growth and sale of cannabis. This based on the number of jobs and money it has injected into their respective economies.
One of the most exciting things about so many countries legalising – or at the very least decriminalising cannabis use – has been the fact that the plant and its potential have once again become a subject of study for academia.
While many studies have been conducted to look at the medicinal uses for THC and CBD derived from cannabis, two South African students are looking to improve how the plant can be grown.
Why is temperature control important to the cannabis industry?
When it comes to extraction, the name of the game is purity.
For the ultimate in cannabis product, short-path distillation is what the extraction industry turns to for the best possible results.
Distillation, chromatography, and re-distilling the product for purification can remove a lot of inactive compounds that serve no therapeutic purpose.
It takes sophisticated, highly-calibrated components to allow companies to reach the level of purity that short-path distillation can obtain.
While people have likely smoked from a pipe or a bowl that had remnants from a different weed strain, mixing two strains is not something that usually done, at least not as a first choice. Is it possible to produce different highs when mixing two types of weed? Can a person tailor a high by playing scientist? Some people believe that’s the case and some don’t.
Mixing strains together can boost weed’s much discussed entourage effect, that feeling when different elements of cannabis come together and produce a powerful high, much stronger than when consuming a single cannabinoid by itself. The entourage effect is the reason why many people claim that consuming one cannabinoid for relaxing or therapeutic effects is not as effective as consuming the entirety of the plant, terpenes and all.
If truly looking to explore unique effects, mixing two strains together may be able to do that, for better or worse. In any case, mixing two strains isn’t rocket science. While a person can end up with a very strong high or something that sends the user to bed, the feeling will pass.
What should a person do?
Stick to one type of product and use common sense. If smoking flower, choose two preferred strains and pair them in equal parts. Don’t mix a vape with flower, or an edible with flower. Start off slow and reign in that creative monster.
When prepping a bowl, take care with the flower by placing it in glass containers and out of the sun and storing it in a cool, dry place. This will preserve the plant’s terpenes and allow for fuller experience.
The critical difference is the pace at which these compounds build up effects. Here are some others.
Hemp and marijuana plants contain many active ingredients. However, a lot of focus is on two specific natural compounds found in these plants: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
Most consumers have recently found out that there are two types of THC molecules in hemp and marijuana — Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC. How do you choose your edibles now? While the list of top Delta-8 gummies can make things easy, some of you might want to find out more about Delta-8 and Delta-9.
Here is everything you need to know about these two compounds, including the key differences between Delta-8 and Delta-9.
THC: Short Recap
If you were wondering what ingredient is responsible for the “high” effect, it’s THC. It is a psychoactive compound found in cannabis plants. Marijuana contains it in higher concentration than industrial hemp.
Women’s History Month may have passed, but it’s always a good time to honor the strong women working in male-dominated industries like STEM. Not only is cannabis male-dominated, so are many different technological areas like science and engineering. But, women are working in these spaces and fighting for greater representation.
The Winter Emerge 2020 Virtual Cannabis Conference & Expo featured a panel adorned with women making moves in science, technology, engineering, medicine, and cannabis. Titled “STEM Women of Cannabis,” and moderated by Mara Gordon, the panel covered the pros and cons of working in industries that often lack female representation.
We Need More Women in STEM
Mara Gordon developed some of the first data-driven treatment protocols utilizing pharmaceutical-grade cannabis for seriously ill patients. She also co-founded Aunt Zelda’s, Calla Spring Wellness, and Zalira Therapeutics Limited. Gordon is a part of the engineering sector of the STEM industries.
Moderator and Aunt Zelda’s Co-Founder, Mara Gordon
Gordon explained, “I’m a process engineer by training and started out in a very male-dominated industry and moved into engineering after burning out from a very, very stressful male-dominated field and I went right smack into another one. When I first started working in Silicon Valley and in the private industry with these skills, I was often just overwhelmed with the differences and how we were treated. Even subordinate males to me were treated better sometimes by upper management. Even so, bringing those skills over to cannabis has been really an amazing journey for me.”
Cannabis infused beverages are quickly becoming a burgeoning vertical of the entire cannabis industry and this is a trend that we are excited about.
After Constellation Brands (STZ) made a $4 billion investment in Canopy Growth Corporation (WEED.TO) (CGC), we knew that cannabis infused beverages were going to be a major part of the market over the long-term and continue to monitor how the industry advances.
After Constellation decided to enter the legal cannabis industry, additional alcohol companies such as Molson Coors (TAP) jumped on the cannabis beverage bandwagon via a partnership with HEXO Corporation (HEXO.TO) (HEXO) and this is a relationship that we are closely following.
During the last year, we have noticed a substantial increase in the number of companies that are focused on the cannabis beverage market. Aphria (APHA.TO) (APHA) took a different approach when compared to Canopy Growth and HEXO and acquired SweetWater Brewing Company for approx. $300 million.
We are favorable on the approach that Aphria took with the US market due to the existing infrastructure that SweetWater has. Shortly after the deal was completed, Aphria announced a merger agreement with Tilray (TLRY) and we expect the combined company to be the largest cannabis business in the world.
Cannabis companies haven't made many deals outside of its own industry, but a couple of the more notable ones have involved tobacco. Altria (NYSE:MO) invested $1.8 billion into Cronos Group (NASDAQ:CRON) back in 2018 to take a 45% stake in its business. And last month, British American Tobacco (NYSE:BTI) invested roughly $176 million in OrganiGram Holdings (NASDAQ:OGI), which represents a 20% stake in the cannabis company.
Not only is the cannabis industry moving further into the mainstream as more states legalize marijuana, but there's also a growing pressure on the tobacco industry to diversify its offerings. And a new projection could put pressure on tobacco companies to act sooner rather than later.
Could all the smokers disappear?
According to analysts at Jefferies, conventional smokers could be gone from many markets around the world within just two decades. This isn't because smokers won't still demand the products, but instead that countries are trying to move away from smoking and tobacco companies by offering reduced-risk products (RRPs). Analysts point to vaping and oral nicotine as alternatives that smokers may end up turning to.
Philip Morris International (NYSE:PM) sells IQOS, an electronic cigarette that heats tobacco rather than burns it. However, it still has a long way to go in proving it can be a meaningful alternative for smokers. One quarter of the $28.7 billion in net sales that Philip Morris generated last year was related to RRPs. And of that total, IQOS accounted for just 7%. Switching to other products likely isn't all about safety, either, as tobacco companies also need to find more avenues to grow. Philip Morris' 2020 revenue was down from 2019's tally of $29.8 billion, and its top line is nearly unchanged from what it was in 2017. British American Tobacco's sales also declined in 2020 and over two years are up just over 5%.
Why cannabis may be the ideal option for tobacco
A big reason why industries are hesitant to get involved with cannabis is that it's risky. Federal prohibition means that products can't be transported into the U.S. from abroad or across state lines, and some businesses aren't willing to risk damaging their wholesome images. That's what Berkshire Hathaway executive Charlie Munger pointed to in a 2019 interview, saying it would be a mistake if soft drink giant Coca-Cola were to ever attempt to mix marijuana with its products.
Cannabis and innovation go hand-in-hand. From growing to packaging technology, consuming to creating, cannabis influences many innovative ideas.
Innovation in cannabis isn’t always as visible as it is in other industries. Cannabis is still budding and because it’s been illegal for so long, much of its innovation has happened behind closed doors.
As space continues to grow, entrepreneurs are becoming more comfortable sharing their ideas and advocating for a more transparent industry.
The cannabis community is ripe with innovators developing thoughtful solutions to emerging problems. Here are a just a few bringing their ingenuity to the space.
Researchers believe they may have identified the chemical primarily responsible for complaints regarding the smell of some marijuana and hemp cultivation operations.
We recently mentioned complaints in connection with the smell of hemp farms – some of them anyway – are far from being uncommon. But it turns out what has been described as a “skunky-like” odor may have nothing to do with certain terpenes, the aromatic compounds found in many plants previously thought to be responsible.
A research team consisting of Byers Scientific, Iowa State University and Texas-based odor experts used a triangulation approach of analytical chemistry to potentially identify the primary culprit as being 3-methyl-2-butene-1-thiol (321 MBT). This compound is among seven contained in a skunk’s spray that give the critter its smelly reputation.
321 MBT is also the same chemical causing the skunk-type aroma and odd flavour in “light-struck” beer. This occurs when beer is exposed to strong light, which causes certain compounds in hops to degrade. Light-struck beer is also known as “skunked” beer and is one of the reasons beer is usually stored in brown rather than clear or green bottles, as brown glass transmits less visible light.
There’s a connection between hops and cannabis – they are in the same plant family (Cannabaceae).
The consumer goods business has seen its share of fads—and then some. Often it seems that not a day goes by when a special ingredient or other differentiator hailed as “transformative,” “groundbreaking” and “game-changing” simply fades away, consigned to the dustbin of marketing past. From hero to zero, the cycle is exceptionally swift.
Product makers are increasingly searching for that extra little something that can help appeal to discerning consumers—and make a splash on social media. They are forced to find that ingredient, additive, or differentiator which can start and sustain buzz while also meeting consumer needs. Yet finding a genuine superstar is very difficult.
Almost all of us can call to mind one of those miracle ingredients that were hailed as the next big thing, only to become the last nothing. At one point, you could taste the tang of ginger in every other health drink—that is, until consumers realized they didn’t really care for it all that much. Just a few years back, you couldn’t wash your face without feeling the harsh scrub of micro-beads, until we realized the damaging effect they have on the environment. Glitter even had its moment in cosmetics, until someone sagely pointed out that it breaks down on the skin, potentially causing harm.
In this challenging environment, we might be tempted to dismiss anything that draws too much attention too quickly as mere hype. And in most instances, we’d be right to do so. But cannabinoids present a different case for a number of substantive reasons.
Since the breakout of CBD over the past few years, we’ve seen a lot of hype. But the reality is that far from being a fad, cannabinoids stand to have profound effects on the way we make and market hundreds of consumer products across dozens of major industries. I believe there are three main reasons we will continue talking about cannabinoids well into the future:
Yep, you read that right: you can now get paid to study cannabis! Cannatech healthcare company Veriheal just announced a $20,000 Innovation in Cannabis scholarship for students pursuing cannabis degrees.
The scholarship first launched in 2020, but last year only gave out $10,000 in scholarship awards. This year, it has been doubled to offer 20 $1,000 scholarships to those who qualify.
“With this scholarship fund, we’re putting $20,000 directly into the hands of a new generation of innovators who will help shape the future of our industry,” said Veriheal co-founder and co-CEO Joshua Green. “The cannabis category is growing at an extraordinary rate, and there are many complex problems that must be solved across all sectors, from finance and technology to science and education. At Veriheal, we’re fortunate to be in the position to support budding entrepreneurs from all walks of life and bring diverse, fresh perspectives to the cannabis field.”
How To Apply
To qualify for the scholarship, high school seniors and college students must submit a 1,000+-word essay explaining how they plan to improve the cannabis industry. Winners will be chosen based on these essays.
Thanks to global cannabis reform victories, the legal industry is spreading to virtually every corner of the planet through new concepts like crowdgrowing. Cannabis may still be prohibited in various countries, however, momentum for reform is greater than ever and the future of the cannabis industry is extremely bright.
No other industry is as exciting as cannabis right now, and with legalization still in its infancy by most measures, the potential for profit is astronomical.
With that in mind, it’s not exactly shocking that innovators, entrepreneurs, and investors of all types are scrambling to try to get into the legal cannabis industry. Everyone wants to get in on the action, and understandably so.
Unfortunately, the barrier to entry into the cannabis industry has been very daunting historically, and that is especially true for cultivation operations. Cultivating cannabis takes land, structures, equipment, staff, and other resources, and that doesn’t even get into licensing and permits. The monetary costs involved create a situation that involves a lot of risk.
To make matters worse, that is the best-case scenario. In many legal cannabis jurisdictions cultivation licenses are not even available because rules and regulations are such that only a limited number of licenses are up for grabs.
The vape mail ban which goes into effect tomorrow, is said by government officials to be for the protection of children. However, as blocking the safer way of smoking, while offering no better options, the vape mail ban will likely hurt kids even more.
It’s almost here, the last day for us to legally send you out delta-8 THC vape carts. Due to the vape mail ban which is about to go into effect, we will no longer be able to send out vape carts for a little while. So literally ‘right now’ is your last chance to take advantage of these great Delta-8 THC deals, so we can mail it out while it’s still legal to do so.
Ban on shipping delta-8 THC, CBD, e-Juice carts & more
The whole thing has been fishy from the get-go, with Trump signing off on the omnibus corona relief bill last December, setting into motion a flurry of new laws concerning how tobacco products and cannabis products can be sent in the mail. How would such laws be part of a corona relief bill? Good question. The Omnibus Appropriations and Coronavirus Relief Package is an omnibus bill, which means it functions differently than other laws. They are made to include many different laws on many different topics, and as such, are not debated in congress as they are too expansive and varied to debate. They simply need to pass a vote and that’s it.
Omnibus bills often carry ‘riders’, or unrelated laws that have nothing to do with the main subject matter, and are known as a way for the government to pass legislation under the cover of night. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it means what it sounds like. Doing something in darkness so no one can see. Other similar methods of keeping pending legislation away from regular citizens, and passing unpopular laws, include voting on laws in the middle of the night, voting on holidays, not releasing draft legislation to the public, and promoting bigger media stories to divert attention.
So we can infer from how it was passed that it wasn’t desirable for us (the public) to know a whole lot about it. The bill had actually already passed both houses of congress by last summer in a different form, but President Trump originally had no desire to sign the bill. He did so later on in the year. The provision for the mail vape ban, called the Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act, goes into effect on March 28th. The ban is specifically on tobacco vape products, with cannabis products falling into this category due to 2008’s Federal Law for Control of Tobacco Products bill.
Industrial hemp is an incredibly sustainable and versatile crop that is able to produce a range of products. These include: textile, paper, ropes, insulation material, fibre boards, bioplastics, compost, animal bedding, fuel, paint, feed, food, dietary supplements, cosmetics and medicinal preparations.
The crop also possesses a range of environmental benefits. So, what are they?
Hemp grows easily in a wide range of climates with few resources. It is also naturally resistant to most insects and kills weeds without chemicals. This means fertilisers aren’t needed as the crop grows densely and regenerates quickly.
Through the process of phytoremediation, hemp is able to remove harmful contaminants to improve soil quality. Hemp converts large quantities of extracted nutrients into useful products due to its large root system digging deep into the soil, stabilising and protecting the plant from erosion.
Hemp has a crucial role in a greener and more sustainable society. It is excellent at carbon sequestration, rapidly capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. For every tonne of hemp produced, 1.63 tonnes of CO2 is removed from the air. Hemp absorbs 15 tonnes of CO2 per hectare. This is approximately equivalent to 34,496 miles travelled by an average car.
The uncertainty of the pandemic has forced many people to be more health-conscious and aware of what they’re putting into their bodies.
Being healthy is so much more than just vigorously washing your hands — although that doesn’t hurt.
It’s also being mindful of the hidden chemicals or pesticides that we eat, drink, and even smoke.
While cannabis has been deemed essential due to all its healing, medicinal qualities, it’s important to research how your cannabis was cultivated.
But, how does one determine if what they’re smoking is actually organic or just more corporate greenwashing?
The future of cannabis in cosmetics in China looks bleak following an announcement by China’s National Institutes for Food and Drug Control (NIFDC) that it plans to ban cannabis compounds for use in cosmetics.
According to the Notice on Amending Inventory of Prohibited Cosmetic Ingredients for Public Comments posted on NIFDC’s official website, the authority is proposing to prohibit the cosmetic applications of cannabis-related ingredients, including cannabis sativa kernel fruit, cannabis sativa seed oil, and cannabis sativa leaf, as well as CBD.
The public has until April 19 to submit their feedback.
Cannabis concentrates have been around for about as long as humans have been enjoying the benefits of cannabis, but the way they’re made and consumed has evolved dramatically in just the past few years. If there’s a single style of concentrate that epitomizes this seismic shift in cannabis technology and culture, it’s definitely shatter.
Produced in crystal clear sheets of glittering golden glass, nothing else looks quite like a slab of superb shatter. The shimmering clarity invites you to gaze into its reflective surface, while the tantalizing aroma (and the promise of swift, efficient cannabinoid impacts) urge you to, well, shatter it and consume the intoxicating vapor hidden within.
Shatter is more than just one of the most popular concentrate styles on the market, it’s a symbol of the new wave in cannabis and a high watermark for ambitious extractors who want to make the best. Its dramatic aesthetics often inspire shock and confusion in the uninitiated — and even those who enjoy dabbing shatter often know little about how its made.
The History of Shatter
Long gone are the days when smoking hash in America meant purchasing a piece broken off a brick shipped from Pakistan, Afghanistan or Morocco: By the early ’90s, the advent of prefabricated “kief boxes” and “bubble bags” inspired a dry sift and ice water hash boom that transformed the U.S. market into a largely domestic affair. NorCal dispensary shelves were overstocked with bubble hash by the early ’00s — just in time for the next revolution in cannabis: solvent extraction, which is how shatter is made.
What Is Solvent Extraction?
Solvent extraction isn’t new — it’s used in countless industrial processes, including the decaffeination of coffee and the production of perfumes and food flavors. In fact, none of the “new” techniques for making concentrates are really new, but the application of solvent extraction to cannabis was absolutely groundbreaking. Solvent extraction is complicated, but essentially, a solvent is run through cannabis plant matter, which strips the desirable oils from the plant. Because of its low cost and wide availability, butane has emerged as the most popular solvent option for hydrocarbon extraction, which has led to the term Butane Hash Oil or BHO.
Connoisseurs prefer it, lab tests confirm it. Producers of high-quality cannabis extracts can’t afford not to use it.
Three methods for extraction have been dominant in the cannabis market so far.
The primary difference between them is the solvent they use to process the plant into its final, consumable form. Extraction using CO2 was the first method to gain widespread acceptance in the recreational cannabis market.
CO2 can produce the shelf-stable oils used in vape cartridges and continues to be a popular option. Ethanol was another common solvent long-used by small producers, though professional-grade equipment for production at scale came along significantly later.
But it’s the third method, extracting cannabis with hydrocarbons (butane and propane) that has the most potential to serve consumers in the mature marijuana markets of the future. We can already see those preferences taking hold in the present.